Texas Town Bans Flags on Veterans’ Graves

By Jennifer Abbey

Jul 3, 2012 2:16pm
gty grave flag jef 120703 wblog Texas Town Bans Flags on Veterans Graves

                                                                              (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A Texas town is reconsidering a controversial ordinance that it approved earlier this month that would ban the displaying of flags at  gravesites.

The ordinance,  approved by the City Council of Mineral Wells, states that flags would be allowed on graves at the town’s Woodland Park Cemetery only one week before and after Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. July 4 and Labor Day, other popular flag holidays, were not part of the approved time frame.

After citizens expressed outrage,  flooding  the city council office with calls Monday, the council  scheduled a public meeting for July 10 to reconsider the new flag policy.

Veteran Robert Veach, whose father is buried at  Woodland Park,  was one of the first to speak out against the ordinance, telling the Mineral Wells Index that  he believed he should be allowed to put a flag at his father’s grave 365 days a year.

The ordinance was adopted by the Woodland Park Cemetery Board, said Peggy Gustin, the administrative clerk for Mineral Wells, because the number of items placed at gravesites,  which included teddy bears, statues, bird baths and squirrel feeders, were becoming  a few too many.

“Excessive adornment at the cemetery was causing it to be unsightly, so the cemetery board came up with a solution that they thought would work for all,” Gustin told ABCNews.com.

After several public meetings were held over several months, the ordinance passed.  The last two meetings were held specifically for the public to voice opinions, according to a news release from the City Council. The final meeting was publicized on the front page of  the local newspaper. No one one showed up to voice objections, according to the news release.

But within days of the ordinance passing, the city received complaints from angry citizens, including  Veach.

“The city of Mineral Wells would like to clarify its position in that this action was not in any way taken with the intention of bringing any dishonor or disrespect to any of our Veterans, past or present,” a news release on the City Council’s website said.

The ordinance also  stated that flowers and decorations were  allowed  for  only 21 days after  a  funeral, and that the flowers must be in a nonglass vase and would  be removed once they became “unsightly.” But only the flag provsion of the ordinance is under reconsideration.

As for the July 4th  holiday,  flags will be allowed in the cemetery, Gustin said.

“People are welcome to do their flags on July 4,” Gustin said. “Nothing is going to be done considering the flags until after the meeting on July 10. They won’t be removed. People can place them.”

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